Worcester invests in recycling vehicles

The fast changing pace of refuse collection in the UK, stimulated in particular by the drive by local authorities to meet demanding national targets for recycling, is setting new trends in how recycling and transport managers deploy their specialist vehicle fleets, as the recent experience of the City of Worcester illustrates. LAWE Editor Alexander Catto reports on a trailblazing investment in custom-designed equipment.

Worcester’s success in its recycling initiative has taken off at such a pace that the City Council’s four DEFRA-funded collection vehicles have recently undergone major body swaps, replacing the cages used originally with special-purpose compaction units.

The £146,800 refit has been geared to more than double the amount of paper and cardboard collected by each 18-tonne vehicle, with only one daily 26-mile round trip to the recycling plant at Hill and Moor near Pershore now needed, instead of up to three journeys
a day.

The city’s recycling fleet has also been augmented by the addition of three new 7.5 tonne Isuzu trucks fitted with Garwood Bantam compactors capable of compressing and carrying more than a tonne of plastics in a single load, adding a further £154,083 to the investment.

However, Worcester’s Head of Environmental Services, Mike Harrison says that the entire £300,883 cost of the conversions and the additional vehicles has been met by DEFRA under the Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund.

Mr Harrison, commenting at a presentation of the new vehicles earlier this year, said: “The need to significantly increase our collection capacity has been forced on us through sheer weight and volume of material being sent for recycling, Worcester has heeded the call in a big, big way since we launched the recycling initiative just over a year ago.”

During that time, plastics and paper equal to the weight of 4,000 cars has been sent for recycling from Worcester’s 40,000 households, an achievement described by the City Council’s Environmental Protection Officer John Bond as “a terrific result in such a short time.”

“It represents about a third more than we’d originally anticipated at this stage, but the downside was that the 18-tonne dual-use collection vehicles we introduced a year ago were geared to cope with a much lower level of demand – and the reality is that we’ve simply outgrown them, leaving us with little choice but to consider high energy efficient compactors to increase payload.

“At the same time we’re separating the collection of plastics from paper and textiles – but the result is a far more cost-efficient service,” he said.

Upgrading exercise

The decision to specify compactor bodies involved transport managers at the City Council’s Butts Road Depot in a major logistical exercise as a result of the four original collection vehicles being out or service for up to 10 days each while the Garwood compactor units, custom-made in Sydney, Australia, and shipped to fitter Hill Engineering’s Ellesmere factory, replaced the original cages.

“That meant a total of 40 working days out of service – yet we didn’t miss a single collection,” commented the city’s former Transport Manager John Wilkinson, consultant on transport and fleet management both to the city and to neighbouring Malvern Hills District Council, whose recently launched recycling campaign is modelled on the scheme launched in the city over a
year ago.

The three Garwood Bantam 6m3 refuse bodies supplied to Worcester were built with the facility to have Garwood bin lifts fitted with a minimum downtime and no alteration, if required in the future. These vehicles can be used to collect traditional household waste where necessary.

Four Garwood Powapact 15m3 refuse bodies were fitted to existing 18 tonne Volvo chassis without the need for modification. They have been built with the facility to lift containers in the future if required. The heavy duty Powapacts are collecting paper and cardboard for recycling on a daily basis. These vehicles can also collect normal refuse is required.

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